HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — A second day of racing at Jackson Park in western N.C. provided a change in surroundings and in course conditions. Early races at the Hunter Subaru North Carolina Grand Prix (NCGP) turned the frozen tundra into rutty mud for the Elite riders vying for final points on the USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross (ProCX) calendar. The brown track provided a stark contrast to the white snow blanketing the trees and hills.

There was a new feel to the course, but a similar look for the podium in both Category 2 contests. Canadian Ruby West (Cannondale p/b and North Carolina resident Kerry Werner (Kona Factory CX Team) would seal the wins for a second consecutive day in the elite races. Werner was trying to make a dent in a 140-point margin separating him from ProCX Elite Men’s leader Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz/Donkey Label). However, Ortenblad with score a double-win in Garland, Texas over the weekend at Resolution Cross Cup and hold Werner to a second-place overall in the standings.

West Goes Two-for-Two

West was ranked 15th in the ProCX standings for Elite Women coming to N.C. While top points would help her move into the Top 12 for the year or higher she was focused on just beating Lily Williams (Pony Shop CX Team) to the line for a second day in a row.

“It was a really strong battle with Lily (Williams),” said 18-year-old West, who would pick up her fourth consecutive win on Sunday. “It was a hard race for sure. I know I got a bit of a gap with one lap to go, and then I had a bit of a bobble on the ‘W’ part. I was trying to ride it, and I really screwed that up. So she came back to me. And as soon as she saw the gap closing I think that was her motivation. It was a bit of a hunt on the last lap. I’m really glad I could pull it off.”

West and Williams would ride in tandem around the course for a second day. Williams, who is from nearby Asheville, would finish second for a second day, five seconds behind West. Third place was taken by 19-year-old N.C. rider Hannah Arensman (.A. King P/B BR’c), 14 seconds behind Williams. Her older sister, Allison, would finish fourth.

“I think the course was a little bit different than yesterday for sure,” West noted. “The conditions throughout the race were changing. So it was one of those days when as soon as you started to get comfortable with the line, it was changing all around you. It was hard to find a groove out there. I think it was thawing as the race went on, and people were sliding more and more. It was just deteriorating as the race went on, and got more slippery.”

Women's podium: West, Williams and Arensman. 2017 North Carolina Grand Prix Day 2. © Laura Rice

Women’s podium: West, Williams and Arensman. 2017 North Carolina Grand Prix Day 2. © Laura Rice

Werner Smooths Out a Win Over the Frozen, Muddy Ruts

The final podium for the Elite Men’s race was pretty much in place after the first lap, Werner followed by Eric Thompson (MSPEEDWAX.COM) of Shoreview, Minn. and Tristan Cowie of Mills River, N.C. It was Cowie who tried his hand at the front early by winning the holeshot.

“I wanted to get the holeshot and push hard in the first lap,” said, the N.C. rider, who was the only Elite rider to ride The Wall the entire race. “I wanted to try to get a gap on everybody so I could ride my own race, ride my own pace. It was a little slicker today than yesterday. Just trying to stay on your toes and find some new lines. I got out front for a little bit and made a few mistakes and got shuffled back.”

Cowie lost his position on the second lap with a miscue in the pits, allowing Merwin Davis (Cycle-Smart Inc.) of Boone to pass. Two more laps in and Cowie caught Davis to chase down the two leaders. All riders were trying to find the right lines in the mud.

“In pre-ride, it was pretty obvious that everywhere you rode yesterday you didn’t ride today, just because of all the ruts from yesterday had frozen overnight,” said Werner. “It wasn’t so bad during our race because It thawed a little bit more. But it was interesting. It was about where you could pedal, and where you could maintain speed, and stay smooth all race.”

Eric Thompson and Kerry Werner slog through the slushy mud. 2017 North Carolina Grand Prix Day 2. © Laura Rice

Eric Thompson and Kerry Werner slog through the slushy mud. 2017 North Carolina Grand Prix Day 2. © Laura Rice

By the bell lap there were no more wheels to follow to find the right lines, only gaps forming and the finish line getting closer. Werner was in charge, followed by Thompson and a charging Cowie.

“I wanted to be in the top five at the start, and I was,” Werner recapped of the race. “There was quickly a group of three and Eric and I managed to get away for the middle of the race. With three to go, I managed to get away from Eric. I tried to maintain a smooth race and not really slip out or go too hard where I was going to be messing up in the technical sections. It worked out in the end.”

Thompson would improve one spot on the podium from Saturday and move up to second. Cowie improved from fifth on Saturday and finished third. Davis would ride in for fourth, and Winston-Salem’s Travis Livermore (Maxxis/Shimano) would take fifth.

“Kerry started floating away,” said Thompson, who earned his seventh ProCX podium of the year. “I wanted to try my hand at sticking with him and working with him to stay at the front of the race as best as possible. After a few laps, and three to go, he started gapping a bit. I was just trying my best to just stick in there. I ended up losing his wheel, but did my best to keep it smooth and keep second place.”

Men's podium: Werner, Thompson and Cowie. 2017 North Carolina Grand Prix Day 2. © Laura Rice

Men’s podium: Werner, Thompson and Cowie. 2017 North Carolina Grand Prix Day 2. © Laura Rice

The Hunter Subaru NCGP, which is part of the North Carolina Cyclo-Cross Series powered by OrthoCarolina, was one of the two season-ending races for ProCX. The other races to conclude the ProCX season were held in Garland, Texas at the Resolution Cross Cup. The final standings for Elite Women and Elite Men will be posted this week at

Women's Results: 2017 North Carolina Grand Prix

RankBIBLast NameFirst NameAgeResult
1477GALLAGHERRiley17-1 LAP
1570ALLARErica32-2 LAPS
1676HEATHMegan18-3 LAPS

Men's Results: 2017 North Carolina Grand Prix

RankBIBLast NameFirst NameAgeResult
922GORRYRichard Cypress2300:58:11
1634THOMPSONGarret26-1 LAP
1827LIVERMONLucas34-2 LAPS
1933SPONSELAlistair39-3 LAPS